LAW Public Interest Auction 2021

Public Interest Auction

March 25, 2021

The Public Interest Auction is an annual event that brings together the entire law school community to raise funds for public interest fellowships and other public interest initiatives. This popular event draws hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and friends. With the generous support of businesses and donors, participants get to bid on a wide array of experiences and luxurious items while also trying their luck with some irresistible raffles!

Donate money to support public interest work! Donate an item for the auction!

2021 Auction

Celebrating 25 Years of Public Interest Stars!

Join us virtually on March 25, 2021 to celebrate the 25th annual Public Interest Auction! As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary, we recognize in a special way the true stars in this world, our alumni, faculty, and students who tirelessly dedicate their careers to Public Interest. Please help us applaud the individuals who have supported the auction and our fellows for the past 25 years.

Check out our Public Interest Stars Wall of Fame!


How to participate in the auction:

1. Donate Money or Become a Sponsor

Monetary donations of any amount are always welcome! Please visit our donations page to learn more. Select "Public Interest Auction 2021" as the designation!

If you are interested in serving as a sponsor, please see the opportunities below. All sponsors will be recognized on our auction website. Please contact Brian Woods at [email protected] to become a recognized sponsor.

$4,000           Full Public Interest Summer Fellowship in Your Name

$2,000           Partial Summer Public Interest Fellowship

$1,000           Full Spring Break Service Trip

$500+            Partial Spring Break Service Trip

Tax Deductions: Donations are tax deductible. A donation receipt can be provided. 

2. Donate an Auction Item

If you would like to donate an item to be auctioned, please fill out the Donation Intake Form and a member of our auction committee will contact you. We welcome all items, big or small. For some inspiration, please expand the accordion at the bottom.

Any questions can be directed to the Auction Solicitation Committee Chairs:

Olivia Piluso
[email protected]

Noel Ball
[email protected]

3. Visit the auction web site to preregister so you’re ready to bid! (link coming soon!)

 

Thank you for your support of the Public Interest Auction!

No donation is too small! Our committee builds collections of small items to put into themed baskets. Below are some popular auction items.

  • Gift cards (i.e. Seamless, GrubHub, restaurants) 
  • Electronics
    • Noise cancelling headphones 
    • Bluetooth Speaker / Smart Home Device (i.e. Google Home, Alexa) 
  • Designer Bag (that can work for professional purposes - i.e. fit a laptop) 
  • Sports Memorabilia 
  • Books
  • Wine
  • Local Florist “Fresh Flower” Delivery 
  • Kindle 
  • Amazon Prime Gift Membership for a year (Raffle) 
  • Streaming service subscriptions 
    • Netflix for a year
    • Hulu 
  • Other Subscription Boxes (i.e. Hellofresh, Fab Fit Fun, etc.)
  • Jewelry 
  • Professional Photographer Photoshoot (Professional Headshot or Personal Pic) 
  • Tickets to sporting events
  • Art / Home Decor (i.e. candles) 

Virtual Experiences

In lieu of certain in-person experiences we are looking to offer virtual experiences (i.e. Virtual Private Cooking Lesson). Please contact our Solicitation Chairs to brainstorm ideas.

Olivia Piluso
[email protected]

Noel Ball
[email protected]

Please send donation items to the address below along with a copy of the donation form:

St. John’s University School of Law
Nancy Brady
Belson Hall 4-54
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439

If you have general questions about this year’s auction, please contact:

Ashley Williams
[email protected]

Elizabeth Sheehan
[email protected]

Co-Directors of Fundraising
The Public Interest Center 

Wall of Fame—Stars of Public Interest

Every week for five weeks we'll profile five Stars of Public Interest from St. John's Law–25 in total for the 25th anniversary of the Public Interest Auction. Check back each week as we add stars to our wall of fame!

For over 25 years, the St. John’s Law clinics have been a vehicle for students to actively engage in public interest work. This experiential learning has opened students eyes to the realities of the world, and the difference an advocate can make through public interest work. 

Click here to learn more about our clinics. 

Star 1: Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic 

Originally the Elder Law Clinic, the Consumer Justice for the Elderly Clinic has expanded from focusing on small consumer issues to being the first clinic in the country to tackle predatory lending cases. Today the clinic represents clients on a variety of cases including: deed theft, foreclosure defense and predatory lending, home improvement contractor fraud cases, and debt collection.  

In addition to representing clients, the clinic focuses on community education. Through “know your rights” presentations, students have the opportunity to hear from community members and connect with issues.  

The impact of the clinic’s work cannot be understated. In some instances it has helped clients keep their homes, and remain in communities they have lived in for upwards of 30-40 years. 

Professor Goldweber 

Professor Goldweber has dedicated her entire professional career to public interest work. Entering law school, she knew she wanted to pursue a career as a public interest, legal services attorney. Her time serving in the criminal defense clinic at Wisconsin law school foreshadowed her unwavering commitment to the clinical programs at St. John’s School of Law. Throughout her career Professor Goldweber was a public interest trailblazer at Legal Action of Wisconsin and the N.Y. Attorney General’s Office. As the Director of Clinical Education, Professor Goldweber has worked to expand the clinics from the singular Elder Law Clinic to the many clinics students participate in today. Professor Goldweber believes a clinic education gives students skills and professional identities, and fosters a holistic approach to client representation. As Professor Goldweber stated: “The clinics have had an impact advocating for people who would otherwise be unrepresented and not able to get justice.” 

Star 2: Child Advocacy Clinic: Professor Jennifer Baum 

At Brooklyn Law School, Professor Baum interned at the Legal Aid Society in the Juvenile Rights Division's Special Litigation Unit. There she worked mostly on class actions on behalf of impoverished children. After law school, she eventually obtained employment with the Legal Aid Society in one of the Juvenile Rights Division's trial offices. The Child Advocacy Clinic was first established by Theresa Hughes in 2003 in a partnership with the Legal Aid Society. Professor Baum began working with the clinic in 2008 and has been the Director of the clinic ever since. Though the clinic started out focusing on child abuse and child neglect cases, over the years another need became clear – legal representation for immigrant children. There was an increase in the need for representation of abused and neglected children in "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status" cases. These are children who would be deported but for the fact that deportation would return them to an abusive or neglectful household. As there is no right to appointed counsel for these children in immigration court, the Child Advocacy Clinic provides those children with representation for these matters on a pro bono basis.

When asked about the clinic’s student participation, Professor Baum stated, “The impact on both the students and the clinic is: inspiration.” The students that work with the Child Advocacy Clinic have the opportunity to “use all the knowledge they have been accumulating over their law school career and put it to use for the people.” When asked what public interest meant to her, Professor Baumresponded, “A legal education is a privilege. It is the privilege of not only understanding the laws that affect individuals and society generally, but it is also a privilege to be a part of the system and have the ability to improve it. To work in public interest means taking your legal education and using it to improve people’s lives. To be able to dedicate one’s life to teach students how to aid the disenfranchised is an inspiring responsibility that I take seriously every day. It’s not about going to work and just handling a case, it’s about promoting ethics and fairness. Public interest is a true commitment to raising the participation level of disenfranchised populations in society's legal systems so that they too can enjoy the benefits experienced by those with privilege.”

Child Advocacy Clinic 10 years ago.

Star 3: Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic - Amanda Beltz

Amanda Beltz is the director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at St. John’s University School of Law. Amanda is an Alum of both St. John’s Law and the Domestic Violence Clinic. The Domestic Violence Clinic Started around 2000 and has continued to flourish since then. The clinic partners with NYLAG to give quality clinical experience to law students at St. John’s.

She has worked in public interest throughout her entire life from volunteering as a child to joining the peace corps for three years. After returning from the peace corps, Amanda decided to pursue her passion for  public interest through law school. 

Amanda’s commitment to public service has been consistent in every part of her legal career starting with the Domestic Violence Clinic, who partners with NYLAG where Amanda now works. At the domestic violence clinic, Amanda had great mentors that fostered her passion and helped her continue her career. She spent some time working at Legal Services for New York City, but has found her happiness at NYLAG. 

Currently, Amanda, along with other members of the Domestic Violence Clinic, have been working on helping people get emergency orders of protection. This process was strained severely by the COVID-19 pandemic because people usually came into the courthouse to get these orders. However, Amanda and her team have innovated and now take clients' information and interview them over the phone to access the situation and how they can help people get the orders of protection that they need. 

When asked what Public Interest means to her Professor Beltz responded, “It’s a calling. It’s a passion. I grew up poor in a single parent household, and I saw how public interest people assisted us. There’s no one that doesn’t deserve assistance when they need it especially when they have legal troubles. I wish public interest could be as respected as other areas of law because some of the best and brightest people work in public interest.”

Amanda applauds the Public Interest Center for continuing to do the work needed and continuing the auction.

Star 4: Tenants’ Rights Advocacy Clinic: Amee Masters

Before law school, Ms. Masters worked as union organizer and tenant advocate in and around Washington, D.C.  As a tenant advocate, she became interested in how the law can be an avenue for social change and justice. Throughout law school, she focused on racial and economic justice in my courses, internships, and clinics, and, after graduating, she started working at The Legal Aid Society as a housing attorney. As a Supervising Attorney, Ms. Masters works with her colleagues to defend tenants in eviction proceedings and to represent groups of tenants asserting their rights under the law.  

The Tenants’ Rights Advocacy Clinic represents low-income New Yorkers facing eviction, substandard living conditions, and landlord harassment.  During an unprecedented public health emergency and with a housing crisis looming, the Clinic continues to meet the needs of our clients and adapt to the changes in the court system and housing law. The Clinic began in Spring 2020. As the right to counsel expands, the Clinic offers students the opportunity to engage in the dynamic and ever-changing field of housing law.  The first semester was an eventful one! Halfway through, the pandemic hit.  The clinic curriculum  adapted to working remotely and adjusted to changes in the court system. As the world continues to contend with the Covid-19 crisis, the Clinic continues to fight for housing justice. The students who participate in the Clinic bring a fresh perspective to housing law and housing court. By working together and approaching their assignments with diligence, hard work, and creativity, the students have a positive impact on their cases and the issues faced by their client’s communities. By representing tenants in eviction proceedings and other efforts to assert their rights, the Clinic assists low-income New Yorkers in maintaining secure and affordable housing.  

When asked what Public Interest means to her Ms. Masters responded, “For me, public interest work is about pursuing social and racial justice. As housing advocates, we work with our clients and client communities to address both the immediate crises caused by housing insecurity and the root causes of structural injustice and inequality.  Public interest work can take many shapes, but, for me, it means centering the lived experiences of the people most affected by the laws and policies we are engaged with and working to challenge inequality in the systems and institutions we work within.”  


Mattone Family Institute’s information session on housing court tenant advocacy work

Star 5: Refugee and Immigrant Rights Clinic: Kristi Dalling

Professor Dalling’s exposure to international rights began after college when she lived in Venezuela for a year teaching English, while working as a freelance journalist. Afterwards, Professor Dalling attended Columbia Law and eventually worked at a law firm focused on security and transactions for their Latin American practice. During her tenure at the firm, she completed various pro bono projects focused on immigration. Ultimately, she decided to develop her passion for immigration and return to her social justice roots, so she transitioned into her role at Catholic Charities. 

Professor Dalling currently serves as one of the clinic professors for the Refugee and Immigrant Rights Clinic where she enjoys supervising and mentoring of law students. The clinic began as collaboration between Catholic Charities and St. John’s, eventually developing into what it is today, which aims to strike a balance between providing students with actual practice litigating cases while receiving instruction on the subject matter of the law. 

The clinic allows law students to get involved and interested in an extremely complex but important field, especially in dealing with asylum cases. While remoting learning has prompted some changes, she believes the clinic's ongoing casework gives exposure to actual removal proceedings for students and eventually (when the clinic is not remote) actual litigation experience. 

When asked what public interest means to her, Professor Dalling responded, “developing your skills, experience, and talents. Advocating for marginalized individuals and communities, and working in support of a policy that works to achieve a more equitable society.”